How Tony Gwynn helped usher Theo Epstein into the world of baseball

How Tony Gwynn helped usher Theo Epstein into the world of baseball
June 17, 2014, 3:15 pm
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Tony Andracki

Theo Epstein was just a kid when he started working for the San Diego Padres and met Tony Gwynn.

Since Gwynn's passing Monday, so many stories have come out about the legendary impact he had on the game of baseball and the countless lives he touched.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein shared his own Gwynn story on 670 The Score Tuesday.

"I was [in San Diego] in 1995, as a 21-year-old after just graduating college," Epstein said the Mac and Spiegs Show. "The person that made me most comfortable and most welcome was Tony Gwynn. ... Everything that everyone has said about him is true, and then some.

"The quality of person that he was just beyond the Hall of Fame player. He was remarkably open and positive and engaged and selfless and giving. He made everyone's day at the ballpark. He was an incredible guy and he'll be missed by everyone in baseball, especially in San Diego."

[RELATED - Cubs VP McLeod will never forget Tony Gwynn’s influence]

Everybody talks about Gwynn's stats - the 3,141 hits, the .338 career average, the 15 All-Star game appearances - but Epstein didn't want to focus on the back of Mr. Padre's baseball card.

"I don't really like breaking down a guy's stats a day or two after he passed away," Epstein said. "I'd rather look at the impact of the person. As a player, he was incredible. ... He was a great athlete - he stole 50-plus bases, he hit all different kinds of pitching, he was a force in the middle of the lineup, played good defense, was the most prepared position player I've ever been around.

"He was doing video long before everyone else like Curt Schilling did on the pitching end. It changed the game."